Senate Majority Picks Fight They’ll Win on K-3 Curriculum

May 25, 2022

“Parents’ Bill of Rights” would bar from K-3 curriculum the type of gender and sexual instruction taking place in elementary schools around the country

Bill treats gender dysphoria as the health condition advocates have long argued it is – and requires parental notification, just like other health conditions

“We call people with more than one gender or no gender, non-binary or queer.” “In my heart, I’ve always known that I’m a girl teddy, not a boy teddy.”

These are parts of two lesson plans that public schools elsewhere in the country recommend for five-year-olds.

Senate Republicans last night introduced legislation to keep gender and sexual lessons out of the curriculum in kindergarten through third grades. (As WRAL and the Associated Press reported, the proposed bill does not ban teachers from discussing gender or sexuality if, say, a student raises a hand in class and asks a question.)

The Senate majority wagers that most parents and others with an interest in the public school system will agree that gender identity and sexual orientation are not age-appropriate components of the K-3 curriculum. The Senate majority is almost certainly correct, a fact confirmed by national polling.

Another part of the bill empowers parents to learn basic information about their children’s health. It also puts opponents in a box. The bill requires parental notification if a student presents as a different gender in school. Gender advocates have long argued that such behavior indicates a medical condition called “gender dysphoria.” Indeed, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classifies gender dysphoria as a medical condition.

So the bill treats identification as a different gender exactly how advocates have long wished: as a medical condition. And schools must notify parents if students present in school with a medical condition.

First, it doesn’t seem particularly healthy for a middle schooler struggling with gender identity to conceal this struggle from his parents for many years.

Second, it will be very difficult for bill opponents to argue that parents should know about some medical conditions, but not about other medical conditions. Anonymous administrators and Twitter warriors get to decide what medical conditions parents are allowed to know about in their children? Good luck with that. And the alternative is to say gender dysphoria is not actually a medical condition – the precise opposite of what they’ve claimed for years, and a direct conflict with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The proposed Parents’ Bill of Rights also grants parents access to educational materials used in their children’s classrooms. Again, the notion that public schools should be able to withhold from a child’s own parents what that child is learning seems a hard sell for bill opponents. The overriding theme of this bill is empowering not bureaucrats but parents, who are ultimately responsible for the health, safety, and upbringing of their kids.

We have North Carolina-specific polling data on whether parents should be allowed to review curriculum and whether schools should disclose to parents information about their children’s mental and physical health. The results show overwhelming support: 74% in favor, just 24% opposed. See the crosstabs here: NC Statewide Education.

The reform majority picked a fight that it will win.